Beating 2 Contenders in 3 Days at Home or Giving Up Losing for Basketball Lent

  • (Note: Nuleaf is excused from reading this one.) 🙂

    It is that time of year when we, well, some of us basketball sinners, give up nonessential habits to cleanse the basketball soul. Being the type to always go overboard on things, I thought first about giving up basketball, but I would infarct and die after the first week, so what would be the point of that?

    It followed that I had to find something a little less dangerous to give up.


    It occurred to me that I might feasibly give up losing.

    What a great habit to give up!

    Proposition: let’s give up losing for Basketball Lent.

    But, jaybate, you say, I have never heard of Basketball Lent.

    Without putting too fine a point on it, that’s because it is a fantasy I am making up out of thin liturgical air here.

    Be that as it may (and as it is), Basketball Lent starts NOT after Fat Tuesday, like, say, Roman Catholic Lent, but it starts today.

    Call this Fat Thursday of Basketball Lent. Go to some gymnasium today and get in a pick up game and hoist a bunch of 30 footers and lose. Play some horse blindfolded and lose. Try to dunk on ice and lose. Play eucre and don’t draw. Gamble with a professional gambler named Dodge City Dick and get picked clean. Fly to Vegas and play roulette. Lose your dog (but then get him back). Get all the losing out of the way you can today.

    Then let’s give up losing till the day after the NCAA Finals–the last day of Basketball Lent!

    Let’s cleanse ourselves of the symptom of original sin, since we dare not give up original sin, for that, if I recall correctly, could rub certain serious types wrong, as doing so is not an option on the pull down menu of several religions involved in the whole non-basketball Lent thing.

    Like secular New Years resolutions, secular (well, not secular really, kind of mythical in point of fact) Basketball Lent sacrifices are easier to talk than walk. Nevertheless, the act of trying builds character, likely earns liturgical basketball group-ons, and cannot hurt with the Basketball God’s own TSA staff at the Naismith Gates.

    We have, brothers and sisters, already taken a significant step in the direction of giving up losing in the first three games of this year’s round robin.

    But we face a substantial challenge this weekend.

    How will Friar Self and his Monastic Order of KU Basketball Monks give up losing against OSU and Baylor–two contenders for the Big 12 crown–in three days on its home court?

    Ah, st. jaybate of the Burnt Ends, you say, home court is the EASIEST place to give up losing.

    Yes, and no, my brethren, and sistren (fake religious word alert).

    Home games, you see, are must wins, as my fellow givers-up-of-losing should recall. Home games against title contenders are XTReme Must Wins. Why, losing a home game against a contender means having to go into Philistine territory (i.e., an opponent’s crib) during the fatigued, late stretches of round robin hood season, to get a split to keep title hopes alive, and to honor our promise to forego losing to cleanse the heathen threads of our basketball souls’ vain tapestries.

    Were KU to win the Saturday-Monday games this weekend (i.e, forgo losing), KU would have essentially set itself up for ONLY having to sweep non-contenders the rest of the way to win the conference, plus pick up probably one more sweep against a contender on a Philistine court to win the Big 12 title.

    Given our combined commitment to forgoing losing the above is possible, if not probable, given the flaws and imperfections of board rats under the basketball god’s meta-scoreboard.

    And yet, and yet, it is possible, brethren and sistren (alert: fake religious word repetition).

    And so if there were one thing that i, st. jaybate of the Burnt Ends, have learned in the long, absurdity-suffused years of my basketball loving life on this mortal McPherson Strut and coil springed existence, it is that singing and making music are pathways to harmonizing the inner self, so that the difficult cometh easy, and the impossible taketh a wee bit longer.

    (st. jaybate of the Burnt Ends embraces the tone of a Gregorian chant, because rap cannot move the old mofo to as deep of a place.)

    Oh, angels of iron and wood on high

    Oh, angels of iron and wood on high

    Oh, angels of iron and wood on high

    Beat thy wings that we may fly

    Beat thy wings that we may fly

    Beat thy wings that we may fly

    Beyond the splits up to the sky

    Beyond the splits up to the sky

    Beyond the splits up to the sky

    As Pokes and Bears beaten cry

    As Pokes and Bears beaten cry

    As Pokes and Bears beaten cry

    Hoops eleison I recall

    Hoops eleison I recall

    Hoops eleison I recall

    Now, thus internally harmonized, let us consider how Friar Self and his Oreadian Monks may go about this challenge of forgoing losing this Saturday-Monday.

    Recollection is that Friar Self tends to:

    a) decide which team is the toughest out;

    b) send them out flat for the lesser team to grind out a win;

    c) amp for the better team;

    d) substitute liberally the first 30 minutes in the first game, or when ever the score permits, to stay fresh for the second game;

    e) substitute liberally the first half of the second game to stay fresh for the last ten minutes;

    f) save wrinkles in the first game for the second half:

    g) save different wrinkles for the second half of the second game;

    h) win one pretty and one ugly; and

    i) think next whatever results.

    The good Friar’s historical method is in short a study in trying to win both games, not just one.

    It tendeth to work, but, lo, in mysterious ways.

    And the intrinsic risk of the Friar’s approach is the game that the team is sent out flat for; that is the game when the Friar’s teams get knocked off, particularly by teams with names that begin with B.

    So: for which game should Friar Self send them out flat?

    To amp, or not to amp, that is always Shakespeare’s endlessly relevant question for mannerist periods, and for periods transitioning into the baroque? And we are most definitely transitioning into the baroque, Heck, we may even be entering the post-baroque, burned out phase of the latest enlightenment, but I am diverting from the metaphor and the main point here. Fie on your quotable relevance, Shakespeare!

    In a basketball world of finite amps and zero-sum energy budgets (i.e., burn up too much energy in one Saturday-Monday game, and you have too little energy to win the other game), how does one distribute the amps and the energy budget to win the both games?

    When I, blind, stooped, dyspeptic, diseased, vile, loathsome, shape shifting Tiresias aka st. jaybate of the Burnt Ends, striving desperately to give up losing for Lent, think it through, I come to an unexpected expectation–a counter intuitive intuition–a mind blind insight–an analytical guesstimation.

    Baylor, though it has been bumbling of late and has Scott “I never really know what I’m doing” Drew for a coach, has more talent than OSU (though not necessarily the best player for OSU’s Smart seems that) and, Baylor, after spending its share of time at the basketball wailing wall (as did KU earlier), you know, that Bush’s Base Baylor, that Kenneth Starr Baylor, coming as it does in scheduling, second, is probably the tougher out, since OSU is Cobbins-free now.

    (Here we give brief pause as st. jaybate of the Burnt Ends is in the best medieval sense of the church roasted at the stake by the liturgical sentence police for that last one, only to arise alchemically from the lapping flames emboldened to do still worse things to his native tongue albeit with virtuous heart and losing forsaken in the giving up of basketball lent.)

    Now Brethren, and Sistren, do not for a moment think that this means that OSU is not a tough and dangerous out that Self might be tempted to amp for first in order to settle for at least a split. This would, after all, be the conservative play. This would minimize harm done to the current miraculous 3-0 conference record.

    But Friar Self likes to play to win both, almost as much as George Washington and the Mahatma wanted to throw the Crown of Great Britain out.

    But Friar Self has to weigh where he would rather try to win an away game were he to play it conservatively (and against his tendency) and only go for one win: Gallagher Iba, or the Waco Indoor Defense Grant Center.

    This is where it gets iffy for Basketball Lent, IMHO.

    Self has some history of struggling at Gallagher Iba, especially when Travis Fiesta (not a Taurus) Ford has a sub atomic particle with a burr hair cut and a mean trey simulating the quantum out front. Smart makes life a lot more difficult in the Newtonian realm of planetary-sized point guards. Smart is the real deal. A once in a half decade PG. And we have the kind of pint-sized PGs that Smart was born to bend, fold and mutilate, as well as torch. But the liturgical bottom line here seems to be that OSU lacks a credible starting big man inside, or credible backup big man, and KU has proven it can find ways to win against these teams simulating seven cherubs spreading it out on a renaissance ceiling.

    And Friar Self has some history struggling with Scott Drew at home and away. Drew is tough to coach against precisely because he has lots of player talent and does not know what he is doing. Coaching against Drew is like playing chicken in semi-trailer trucks with an opponent that doesn’t know how to drive. You can’t really anticipate what he is going to do, so you can’t really count on out thinking him, because he isn’t really thinking. He is panicking. And panic is itself a kind of mad strategy that can work, at least randomly.

    So: Friar Self has to think long and hard about which team he would rather amp for:

    1. an opponent with a great PG and SG, but no inside game to counter KU’s formidable inside game and depth; or

    2. an opponent with enough talent to play KU head up a lot of places and a panicking coach that might do almost anything, except respectfully shake hands after a loss.

    I tend to believe KU’s sapling players (mostly from other parts of the country with little awareness of Baylor and Drew) have let hype over focus them on beating Marcus Smart and OSU, as if Cobbins were still with OSU, when he is in fact not.

    I believe KU’s players in this condition, if amped, could annihilate OSU only to have a huge let down against Baylor that would lead to an L.

    A split is not inherently evil, but neither is it an ecstatic identity with basketball heaven, either.

    I believe the smart play against Smart and Company is for Self to take the big risk of sending the team out flat against the Pokes and squeak out a win down the stretch–to use substitutions and size and board control and help on Smart to wear down OSU without a peak effort. This approach risks Smart going off for 30 points against our ponies. But the decisive blow would come from Brown burning us and Nash finally fulfilling his destiny out of a messianic desire to show Wiggins/Ellis they are not all everything. But if KU shoots its average, I believe the KU numbers and size will eventually overwhelm OSU even with KU playing flat.

    Then amp the heck out of the team for Baylor and I believe KU’s best can overcome Scott Drew’s wildly varying coaching even at its most improbable best.


  • I was walking home, and a bird whispered into my ear. I thought it was a bird, but it was my wife pointing to a basketball stuck in a tree, and demanded me to retrieve the ball.

    Was this a sign? Was this woman really my wife, or was she Eve in disguise? How do I know that is really a basketball up there? Could it be an apple?

    I ran inside and let the situation stay as it was. I am now pondering if basketball could be part of “original sin?” It seems to qualify, because I can drown my soul into almost any game on TV. I can’t think of a bigger distraction in my life than basketball.

    Woe is me.

    I’ll go now… pontificating and fasting from all basketball… surely I can stay away from this sin of the flesh (and mind)… at least until this evening, when several good games suddenly appear on my widescreen.

    It is 12:36pm, CST. I wonder how long I can go from posting in here or flipping on Sportscenter or scan through my cable guide looking for games to DVR…

    Woe is me…

  • @drgnslayr, vaya con dios, Basketball Friar Slayr. Let the radiance of the game shine from your soul. Banish woe from thee. Thou art a vessel of basketball goodness. Thy beloved wife is there merely to give thee the perspective to realize that this is so. 🙂

  • @jaybate 1.0 You had me at “Nuleaf is excused from reading this one.” Very crafty move, sir.

    Now my focus changes - I am giving up NOT reading long jaybate 1.0 posts for basketball lent.

  • Jaybate Nice judo move to suck nuleafjhawk in. Nuleafjhawk. Nice Standing Crane counter.

  • OMGoodness!!! I’m gonna forward this thread to a couple far smarter and wittier friends of mine for their enjoyment! One from Notre Dame and the other UT. @jaybate CLASSIC!!! I’m thinking top 5 all time posts. @drgnslayr Perfect follow up to @jaybate. @nuleafjhawk and @Careful you well played.

  • @jaybate one thing I don’t get is how does HCBS send them out flat? I’m sure not every speech is as good as the pre-Memphis one…but do you really think he intentionally lulls them into playing passive so as to conserve energy to be used the next half or on Monday? Enquiring minds want to know!

  • @VailHawk, great question. Think Self’s range of emotions in a game. You have probably noticed that Self’s levels of emotion and intensity ebb and flow during a game. You have probably noticed he is modulating his shows of same based on whether he thinks his team is too lax or too sped up. Sometimes he is calm, almost neutral, letting them labor. Sometimes he exhorts. Sometimes he is anger and fury. How they play is often influenced by influenced by him. He knows what geeks them up and calms them. They want to give him what he wants. What he does on the bench he can do in the days before a game. He can be loose or intense. He can get them over or under confident, businesslike or intense in the run up to games.

    Sending them out flat just takes holding his own emotions to neutral and giving them a lot of “stuff” to think about. Amping them means overt appeals to their hot buttons, acting fired up, letting them know their reputations are on the line, or simply tapping into their trust and devotion to him.

    Think of how much you yourself notice Self’s emotions on the bench from a TV. Imagine being within feet of that for a day or 4 before a game. He can make you feel 10 feet tall or like you are inept, or most anywhere in between with just a few words.

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